Laughter is a universal communication system that’s understood across cultures, breaks the social divide and can diffuse tensions in awkward situations.
Academically-based studies have found that not only does laughter make you and those around you feel better, it actually improves lots of fundamental health indicators – like short term memory, blood pressure, stress levels and, in fact, the whole immune system.
Some international academics have even accurately measured laughter’s benefits and have found it reduces the effects of pain and lessens the chances of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.
The secret, scientists say, is to laugh loud and laugh often. Any wonder comedy festivals and special laughter events and classes are popping up all over the place. Laughter, they say, is better than any pain killer or anti-depressant on the market.
Friday, July 25th just happens to be Lifeline Australia’s Stress Down Day – a day to raise funds through the power of laughter and draw attention to the good work Lifeline does to help people through life’s stressors. You can celebrate the day by going to their website http://www.stressdown.org.au/ and organising activities around the office or home that will make people feel relaxed and happy. You can even pledge to raise some money or donate to Lifeline’s vital personal well-being work.
Ambassador for Lifeline’s Stress Less Day is Anthony Ackroyd, founder and CEO of his own company, The Laughter Advantage. His mission is to make people healthy and successful by encouraging them to take laughter seriously in their corporate and personal lives - to de-stress with laughter.
Here’s a little something to amuse you that I found on Anthony’s Facebook page. (Warning, this may not be suitable for children under 14 as it might be repeated, often, at inappropriate times).
In Australia we love to ‘take the micky’ out of anyone and everyone, particularly politicians, royalty and VIPs. Contemporary Australian comedians regularly use laughter and comedy to challenge stereotypes, draw attention to current issues and get us thinking about our own pre-conceived ideas and attitudes.
The ABC program The Chaser’s War on Everything, challenged lots of political and social boundaries with a world of laughs. Having gone just a bit too far and breached security at the 2007 APEC summit, by almost gaining entry to the Sydney event in a limousine, the team went on to challenge other untouched institutions, like The Melbourne Club, for their men-only rule, pointing out that the Governor General at the time, Bryce Quintin, a distinguished lawyer, couldn’t be admitted. Former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was featured in a regular comedy program called At Home with Julia. She admitted to watching the show occasionally to stress-down after a hard day at the office.
Racism is another Australian social issue that is being tackled head on with comedy. After experiencing racist jokes and inappropriate attention from police when they grew up, the Saunders boys - Grant, Jaycent and Andrew- from Taree, have gone on to be part of the burgeoning indigenous comedy scene, both on stage and on TV.
Andrew Saunders, who works for TAFE, regularly visits the TAFEnow office to brighten up our otherwise serious day. Andrew is a regular participant in Deadly Funny, Australia’s only dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander comedy festival. Check him out in his first TV appearance earlier this year on SBS’s online event, Stand Up @ The Bella Union or, with other members of the local community, in his locally made video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dbkvoj6SC0w&feature=youtu.be. You’ll probably want to hide in embarrassment after this, but you’ll get the message.
Perhaps you fancy yourself as a stand-up comedian. TAFE has courses that will bring your language and acting skills up to scratch. See a short interview about Michael Connell, who would definitely recommend TAFE has a good place to start your comedy career.
So, jokes aside, this Friday night it’s time to broaden your mind, lighten up, slip into those trackies or PJs, put on a good comedy show or invite a group of friends around for a good laugh.
If anyone objects to this lazing around and raucous laughter, tell them you’re; improving your quality of life, protecting your heart, strengthening your relationships, easing anxiety and fixing your bad back. They’re bound to take you seriously.
More laughter resources: